6 Money Tips for Single Moms Struggling Financially

By Willow Breckenridge | Jun 6, 2022

Being a single mother in today’s economy can take herculean strength. Wage stagnation coupled with ever-rising rents and healthcare costs makes it challenging to afford the basics even in 2-parent households. Those without a partner’s contributions can grow overwhelmed. 

You need all the advice you can get. Here are six money tips for single moms struggling financially. 

1. Get Savvy With Saving 

Do you feel like there’s always too much month and too little paycheck? If you struggle to make ends meet, you might think a savings account is a pipe dream for people with your means. However, every little bit adds to your financial security — you might have to get savvy with savings. 

One way to do so is to automate your savings. If your employer offers a 401k or another retirement plan, please take advantage. Your HR department withdraws your portion before you get your paycheck, eliminating the need for self-discipline. Plus, you reap tax benefits. 

If you take on a second job to make ends meet, direct your deposit from that gig to a bank account that you don’t link to any others. If possible, eschew online access — make it that you have to physically visit the branch to make a withdrawal. You’re far less likely to take more than you need “just this once” to cover bills. You don’t have to touch these funds at all outside of emergencies if your primary job covers your expenses. 

College is a huge expense. Fortunately, every state offers a 529 savings plan, some with monthly requirements as low as $15. Giving up one meal a month to sock that away for your child’s future educational needs can save them from overwhelming student loan debt. 

2. Build a Side Hustle You Love

Unless you’re among the top 1%, your actual wages didn’t go up much over the last few decades, especially when compared to how much you give your employer. From 1973 to 2013, productivity increased by 74%, while the average wage only grew by 9%. 

One way to shield yourself from getting squeezed between soaring costs and stagnant paychecks is to start a side hustle. Make it something that you love — it can take more than a year for many small businesses to turn a profit, longer if you have limited time to devote to your passion. 

However, doing the groundwork now results in a healthy residual income stream later. Writing a book, producing YouTube videos, even establishing yourself as a trusted vacation rental owner lets you make money in your sleep. After all, there are only so many hours in a day, and you can’t labor for the entire 24. 

3. Seek Creative Ways to Cut Expenses 

Do you groan when you see the plant prices at your local nursery? You can slash your grocery bill and enjoy your favorite gardening hobby for nearly free by learning how to save your seeds. You can also compost at home to revitalize your soil year after year, even if your patch consists of pots on your back patio. 

Sit down with your bank statements and categorize how you spend your money. Then, look for places where you can cut corners with a little creativity. For example, why purchase storage containers when you can wash and reuse that tub that once held store-bought mashed potatoes? Why invest in trash bags when you can use the extras that once carried your groceries from the store? 

4. Find Affordable Daycare 

Daycare can cost as much as rent. The average family spends more than $8,000 a year on quality care for their children. That’s a huge percentage of your income if you’re a single mom trying to eke by on $40,000 a year or less.

Do you have older relatives whom you trust who could step up and help with childcare duties? Can you look for a workplace that offers onsite daycare? Is your child eligible for free pre-K programs to reduce your need for outside help? 

5. Talk to Your Employer

You’re in luck if you’re a single mom who’s struggling financially because she finds it challenging to juggle work and childcare responsibilities. Workers are rising up and demanding a more human and humane economy with options like telecommuting and flex-work. Fully 40% of people recently stated they’d rather quit than return to the office full-time after working from home during the pandemic. 

Take advantage of the new flexible options to find a job that works for you and your family. If you love your current employer but not the circumstances, set a time to sit down and talk about your changing needs with your supervisor. 

6. Consider Your Housing Options 

If possible, try to save for a home — daunting as that task may be. Renting leaves you at your landlord’s mercy when your lease term ends. They could double your rent with impunity, leaving you and your child out in the cold if you can’t afford the increase. 

Even if your salary compared to your expenses makes you scoff at the idea of amassing a downpayment, you have options. The single-housing guaranteed loan program assists lenders in helping low and moderate-income families the opportunity to own property in rural areas. Even if your commute formerly made such properties unattractive, today’s telework options may have changed the game. 

Another option is alternative housing. If you can amass a 20% downpayment, you can often find recreational vehicles and tiny homes on wheels that cost a fraction of traditional housing — including apartment rent. You need good credit — at least a 670 for unsecured financing and 580 for secure. 

However, it’s worth the sacrifice to consider this route over renting if you can pay the price. You might pass a few years in close quarters, but doing so could significantly improve your overall financial picture. Plus, you’ll pay off your investment in 3 to 20 years, freeing up extra cash later. 

Money Tips for Single Moms Struggling Financially

Being a single mom is tough. Consider these money tips if you’re struggling financially. 

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